Be'lakor are a band I’ve been meaning to get round to listening to for a while now. Mainly because every single music recommendation service I have signed up for has recommended them. With the discovery of their latest album, Of Breath And Bone, on the money-pit that is Bandcamp I thought it about time I gave it a whirl.
Cut from the same cloth as melodeath legends Insomnium and recent favourites Omnium Gatherum, Be'lakor have presented a beautifully crafted melodic death album to the world while eschewing a name that ends in “-um”. Stylistically sitting about halfway between the previously mentioned bands, Be'lakor incorporate thundering rhythms and lyrical dexterity with intricate melody and a healthy helping of blast beats and crunchy riffage.
Lyrically the songs on Of Breath And Bone are one of two sorts. The earlier tracks are cryptic but clear enough to infer the disquieting gist, and the latter are fully fledged stories of loss and despair, as is fitting for the genre. I have quite enjoyed sitting with the lyrics and deciphering the songs as I listen. Some I still have no clue about, but even the imagery evoked by the short choruses is packed with mystery and gothic charm.
Even the songs with complete stories can take some deciphering. Absit Omen, for instance, seems for all the world cryptic and impenetrable on first listen, but a couple of goes in and with the lyrics handy there is an “Oooh!” moment when it clicks. In Parting is another brilliant track telling a heavy hitting story of loss and ignorance that gets all the way to the crushing finale before eliciting a wide-eyed “holy shit” from this listener.
The nature of the tales, the delicately balance melody and heaviness, the morality plays and the tales if helplessness are all captured, somewhat whimsically perhaps, in the cover art. A slightly modified version of Gabriel Ferrier’s Chaperon Rouge insinuates an unseen, unsettling extra depth to the tales within.
On the whole I am very glad I gave this album a listen. Now I need to go back and acquire the band’s first two albums which, from what I hear on the Internet, are just as good. I think Be'lakor’s only flaw is that they are in a saturated market. In the last 5 years the number of melodeath bands has risen immensely and it becomes hard to stand out from the crowd. It’s so easy for the music to disappear into the noise. To become “just another beautifully crafted melodic death album.” Omnium Gatherum’s latest failed to inspire as its predecessor, New World Shadows, had done, not because it was bad, but because it was nothing new. Thankfully for Be'lakor the melodeath ingredients have been added in just the right quantities and mixed in just the right way to make something worthy of remark.